Mexico's president-elect calls on rivals to back reform push

MEXICO CITY Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:18pm EDT

Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto speaks as he addresses a news conference in Mexico City July 11, 2012. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto speaks as he addresses a news conference in Mexico City July 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tomas Bravo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto called on rival parties to rally around his plans for economic reforms on Wednesday, naming a team of advisers to help negotiate deals in the new Congress.

Pena Nieto's election win on July 1 will bring the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century, back to power after more than a decade on the sidelines.

The youthful former governor ran on a platform of ambitious, market-friendly tax, labor and energy reforms, but his plans could hit snags after the PRI failed to win a majority in either the Senate or the lower house of Congress.

"We will have a diverse Congress where no party has an absolute majority and as a result, all the parties will be responsible for coming to agreements," Pena Nieto told a news conference.

"It is time to agree, not impose," he said. "Time to build, not obstruct."

The new Congress convenes in September and PRI lawmakers have said there is a window of opportunity to push through some reforms before Pena Nieto takes office in December.

"We will start promoting these issues at the start of the next legislature," said Luis Videgaray, Pena Nieto's campaign manager, who was named on Wednesday to coordinate reform initiatives for the new government.

During the administration of outgoing President Felipe Calderon, the PRI helped block many similar market-friendly reforms. Pena Nieto now says the changes are necessary to transform the country and insists his party is behind him.

Pena Nieto shied away from naming an official transition team before the electoral tribunal formally declares a winner, a decision that could take two more months.

The runner-up in the race, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, rejected the election results, accusing the PRI of widespread vote buying and could ask the tribunal to annul the election. Lopez Obrador also contested his much narrower loss to Calderon in 2006, launching protests that choked Mexico's capital city for weeks. The PRI denies the allegations.

TARGETING INCREASED ECONOMIC GROWTH

Pena Nieto said Jesus Murillo, a lawyer and former governor of the central state of Hidalgo, would head up his defense in front of electoral authorities.

Murillo will work with Videgaray and another former Hidalgo governor, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, to plot strategy in the interim.

On the campaign trail, Pena Nieto said Mexico could reach growth rates of 6 percent a year with more job creation and improved tax collection. He promised to lure more private investment to state-run oil monopoly Pemex to turn around a slide in oil production. Mexico is currently projecting growth between 3.25 and 4.25 percent for 2012.

"We will be working with experts to craft the economic reform proposals that will without a doubt form the basis of increased economic growth," Pena Nieto said.

Calderon's conservative National Action Party, or PAN, finished third in the race, as voters tired of lackluster economic growth and more than 55,000 drug war deaths during his six-year term.

(Reporting by Anahi Rama; Writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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